By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
The biggest winners in the Cowboys’ decision to hire former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan as passing game coordinator and play caller are likely quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant, per owner Jerry Jones.
One year after getting Peyton Manning-like input into the offense and personnel decisions, Romo is expected to be even more involved and have more power in the offense under Linehan.
“Yes. He’ll have more (power),” Jones said. “I am just answering his question. How and where and what it has to do with depends on how comfortable he is. Romo was a tremendous supporter of Bill Callahan (last season’s play caller). He was absolutely ecstatic over us getting Linehan. He had serious discussions with Detroit’s quarterback (Matt Stafford) and got a great feel for Linehan’s imagination and what Linehan does to maximize skills in the individual players and his flexibility of coming up with schemes within schemes within the base or rules of an offense. Having said all of that, the most excited guy in the organization was Tony Romo to have the prospect of getting Linehan. And so they will be locked at the hip.”
Romo has been recovering back surgery and the official start to the off season program doesn’t begin until April 21, but he has already had some informal meetings and conversations with Linehan at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.
Although Linehan and the Cowboys were attracted to each other because of his prior relationship with coach Jason Garrett and his offense, Jones said his hire represents real change for the team on offense. It will not only be a change in style but a change in terminology in how they call plays on offense.
"Linehan gives us a complete real change of our offense with our terminology," Jones said. "It's different. Although [Garrett and Linehan] have been together coaching, you can't see a lot of what we've been and what they did up in Detroit. He's got a track record of really zeroing in and building the offense around the talent, the specific talent and the qualities of the players."
Linehan ability to utilize his players and maximize their abilities should gain him a big fan in Bryant. Despite being team’s most dynamic weapon _ putting up back-to-back seasons of more than 92 catches and 1,200 yards and catching 25 touchdowns the past two years _ there were times when Bryant disappeared from the Cowboys offense for long stretches.
Jones said that won’t happen with Linehan, pointing to his use of Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson in Detroit and specifically his 14-catch, 329-yard, video-game performance against the Cowboys last season.
Jones said Linehan has done that throughout his career in the running game as well as the passing game, dating back to his days in Minnesota with Randy Moss and Robert Smith.
“There is no question, he’ll take it and he’s done it,” Jones said. “Look hard at how he maximized his skills, how he maximized Johnson’s skills. Johnson didn’t get there doing what he did against us. For whatever reason, they designed stuff to take advantage of Johnson getting there. We’re not going to give any coach credit for Johnson. Well, that’s not really the way it should be. With what he did at Minnesota, with what he’s done and where he’s been, he really does make adjustments to the personnel that are really dictated by the scheme and the philosophy. There’s no question that he’ll take his top players, and it can be in the running game as well, in the running game, he will utilize them in the running game. To some degree all coaches will say that, but getting them to do it or getting it done is another thing. But he’s a proven imaginative coach, relative to using his talent, their particular skills."